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Friday, August 10, 2007

The Christmas Tree Fiasco

Category: Humor Winners, Issue 7

The crisp air nipped at me with cloudy little tufts of breath dangling and darting at my face. It stung. I stared at the Christmas tree. I hated the Christmas tree. It was barren in splotches and crooked. The hand painted sign that stood next to it was such a cliché that it nausteated me violently. ‘XMAS trees $25 and UP!’ in crooked red dripping lines.

I wanted to leave but my kids danced around the ugly little naked fur tree like they had captured it and wanted to drag it back to the cave and cook it over an open spit triumphantly. “Oooooooooheeee—- canwe-canwe-canwe-canwe—DAD!”

I looked at the little girl in the mittens. Of course they had a little girl sell Christmas trees and of course she wore mittens. She probably wore mittens in the middle of July. Probably had claws under there instead of fingers because all the cute allotted to her was used on her freckled button nose. They had to have an adorable little girl sell trees so there was absolutely no way anyone could be forced to help you get the thing in the car. It was a hideous little racket, this Christmas tree business.

“How much?” I asked.

“That one’s forty-five dollars, mister.”

Of course it was.

My wife was to blame for this. Twelve years of marriage, pefectly good years, I thought, thrown down the tubes. All those years we had that lovely little metal tree that was easy to take out, easy to put up, easy to take down and put away, but no. New house. New tree.

I settled up with the little Hitler youth in mittens and wrestled the tree onto the hood of the car. I rolled it onto the roof, it rolled off. I cussed. It laid there. The kids laughed, thinking Daddy was making a silly Christmas play. I bungeed the thing onto the roof trying to find places to put all the hooks, there were hooks everywhere from my radio antenna to my steering wheel to one of my kid’s seatbelts. My car looked like it was tied together by a splotchy droopy mohawk. We got a whole half mile before it flew off the roof the first time. By the third time it flew off I’d had enough. I forced that little nightmare into the trunk and bungeed it down and drove twelve miles an hour all the way home getting cussed out by everybody in town. You haven’t lived until you’ve had a little 90 year old devout Menonite woman call you a stupid son of a bitch in front of her husband.

By the time I got it into the house I looked like a porcupine with a rash. Clearly the tree had won this bout. My wife asked me to straighten the tree up. I laughed at her heartily and sat down and watched Sportcenter. They decorated it, her and the other little hunter-gatherers. At the end, they stood there beaming at it proudly as if they’d done something. I was the one with permanent scars.

My wife climbed beneath the tree to plug in the lights.

“Owww.” She shrieked, wriggling out from beneath the tree. She pulled a pine needle from her cheek. “It BIT me!” She cried.

Maybe there was some Christmas magic left after all!

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